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September 13, 2010 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

The Clientele—Minotaur

The Clientele—Minotaur
Label: Merge

There are few bands I can think of who have simultaneously been as prolific and as consistent as The Clientele. By my count they’ve released four EPs, five LPs, and a singles compilation, and, in this author’s opinion, every one of them is worth a listen. With each release, the band has managed to simultaneously retain its core sound (literate, wistful, and surreal pop-songs) while also gradually developing, either through the addition of extra members, glossier production values—the first LP, EP and singles comp were all completely submerged in gauzy reverb—or by expanding the scope of their songwriting.

With Minotaur, the band continues to diversify its palette; the opening and closing tracks are classic Clientele numbers, bookending a six song stretch that contains a noisy guitar workout, a cover (West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band’s ‘As the World Rises and Falls’), an instrumental, an underwritten pop gem and a lengthy spoken word piece. In other words, it picks up nicely where their last LP, last year’s superlative Bonfires on the Heath, left off. Given that most of these songs are leftovers from those Bonfires sessions, it’s a pretty generous offering, and there’s much to like here, regardless of whether the band’s music is familiar or not. New listeners will marvel at the eloquent lyrics and catchy melodies of Minotaur’s poppier moments (‘Minotaur’ and ‘Paul Verlaine’ and the economical ‘Strange Town’ are all highlights), while veterans will appreciate ‘Green Man’s’ titular reference to a lyric from 2008’s That Night, A Forest Grew EP.

Still, if you’re new to the band you might be better off starting at the beginning (I’d recommend their singles comp, Suburban Light), as the songs here aren’t quite on par with the band’s finest moments; but this is still a worthwhile release, and, if you’re a Clientele devotee like yours truly, an absolutely mandatory acquisition.



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